• Act-On Software
    Act-On Software on November 17, 2014

    The Rules of Engagement on Facebook

    If you want to make your content sharable and searchable on Facebook, you need to have a thorough understanding of Facebook principles and the general rules that apply to content and behavior.
  • When it comes to content marketing, success requires originality, creativity, and customization. If you have noticed recently that your content marketing strategy is not everything that it should be, it is possible that you could be making at least one of the following critical errors in your approach.

    For years, marketers have been told that content is king. As search engines, particularly Google, have made repeated tweaks to their algorithms, the emphasis on quality content has increased. As a result, the onus has been placed on brands to step up their game in terms of content marketing. From blogs to social media posts, the demand for high quality online content produced in a consistent manner has increased.

    As is the case with all other forms of marketing, content marketing requires brands to constantly think of new ways to reach their consumer base. At the same time, it is imperative for brands to review past performance to determine what has or what has not worked. With the introduction of numerous new tools, it has become possible to automate many aspects of digital marketing. When it comes to content marketing, success requires originality, creativity, and customization.

    If you have noticed recently that your content marketing strategy is not everything that it should be, it is possible that you could be making at least one of the following critical errors in your approach.

    Not Being Selective of Publishing Opportunities

    In the past, content marketing strategies often dictated that you publish wherever and whenever possible. This strategy was based on numbers. The more often you published and the more places you content was seen, the better. Today, that is no longer the case. In fact, failing to be selective of where you publish your content could actually harm your brand if your content is posted on a website with poor authority. Regardless of how well-written your content may be, if it is published on a website with content that is deemed to be low quality, your brand is going to suffer. Prior to accepting an invitation to guest blog on any website, take the time to scope out the site and determine whether publishing there will help your brand or harm it.

    Not Branching Out from Social Media to Share Content

    Social media has proven to be an effective tool for quickly and easily publishing content. Even so, it is important to recognize that social media is not the only source for disseminating your content. Taboola, a content recommendation website, is certainly one to watch. According to Fortune magazine, Taboola reaches approximately 400 million unique visitors each month and serves up 1.5 billion recommendations on a daily basis.

    Not Considering Content Linking Authority

    Linking to other sites can be a great way to boost your own content marketing efforts, but prior to doing so, you must first vet the other sites. Google is increasingly concerned with domain authority. By linking to a site with poor domain authority, whether it is through a guest blog post or even something as simple as a link mention, you could unwittingly drag down your own content marketing strategy.

    Disguising Advertising as Content

    Unfortunately, too many companies have been slow to make the transition to quality content. Far too often, many brands continue to churn out what amounts to advertorials disguised as articles. Today, this simply will no longer cut it. Not only is it important to publish high quality content for SEO purposes, but it is also vital for winning the trust of your consumers.

    Not Measuring Content Marketing Results

    Perhaps the worst mistake that marketers make today when it comes to their content marketing strategy is simply not measuring the results. Without gaining insight into what works and what does not, there is no possible way that you can correct your course. While click-through rates and bounce rates are important in terms of sales, when it comes to content marketing, it is important to focus on the type of media that interest your customers the most. For instance, which of your most recently published content did your customers engage with the most? Even a basic tool such as Google Analytics can provide you with this level of insight. Additionally, find out how your content was shared by using a tool such as Hootsuite.

    There is little doubt that content marketing is growing increasingly sophisticated. As search engines continue to place enhanced focus on the importance of quality content, marketers of all sizes must learn to keep pace in order to remain competitive.

    In 2014, we gained access to a lot of new features on Google AdWords that advertisers were pretty jazzed about. Here are the top 10 AdWords features of 2014, as recommended by PPC experts.

    What might Google AdWords have under the tree for good little advertisers this season? There's no telling what new AdWords updates and features we'll see in the coming year, but if this year was any indication, we have a lot to look forward to!

    Google is constantly running tests and releasing new features in AdWords – hundreds every year, in fact. In 2014, we gained access to a lot of new features advertisers were pretty jazzed about. Here are the top 10 AdWords features of 2014, as recommended by PPC experts. I’d also like to extend a grateful thank-you to our own Erin Sagan, who helped me compile this list!

    1. Shopping Campaigns

    These puppies took e-commerce advertisers by storm this year.  In April, Google announced they would be retiring traditional PLAs, which were managed externally through Google Merchant Center, and moving to the AdWords-based Shopping model.  The forced transition deadline was set to an ambiguous date in “late August,” sending advertisers into a flurry to implement the new model sooner than later.

    Top 10 AdWords features 2014 Google Shopping campaigns

    Despite the chaos surrounding the forced transition, Shopping has proven a positive advancement for retailers.  Not only can they manage these campaigns in the same platform as their standard search campaigns, the new solution provides more clarity around performance.  For example, advertisers can now see additional metrics and bid at the specific product level. 

    Now that advertisers have more information to make smart decisions in their accounts, we’re seeing that overall PLA/Shopping spend is steadily increasing.  Expect Shopping Campaigns to continue to grow in popularity throughout 2015.

    Recommended by: @JohnRampton, @Gil__Hong, @ppckirk

    2. Callout Extensions

    PPC advertisers love extensions because they're easy to implement, require little maintenance and can be incredible impactful.  When AdWords announced Callouts back in September, advertisers jumped at the opportunity to give the new extension a go.

    Top 10 AdWords features callout extensions

    With Callout Extensions, you can append your unique selling points and important product details to your ad (a win for just about any online advertiser).  Plus, they're super flexible in that they can be added on the account/campaign/ad group level, they can be mobile-specific, and you can schedule them to appear at different times of day. 

    We’ve seen many versions of AdWords extensions come and go throughout the past few years, but given their overwhelming popularity, I suspect Callouts are here to stay!

    Recommended by: @BryantGarvin, @HomeofJones, @KevinAdamsPPC, @lisasanner, @semwisdom

    3. Call Tracking with Website Call Conversions

    In August, Google launched a new a dynamic forwarding number insertion feature called Website Call Conversions. It automatically populates webpages with a trackable phone number when the visit is the result of an ad click.

    Top 10 AdWords features call conversions phone number

    It's another important step for advertisers looking to close the loop between their online marketing efforts and offline conversions and sales. So far, it's a pretty complex feature, which is unfortunate – it's really the little guys who can't afford paid call tracking solutions who need it most.

    Let's look forward to Google fleshing this option out in the future and hopefully making it easier for beginner advertisers to deploy!

    Recommended by: @szetela

    4. Ad Customizers

    Google gave advertisers an early Christmas gift December 11 with the release of Ad Customizers, which automatically tailor ad messaging to the full context of a user search query or the webpage they're viewing.


    The benefits of Ad Customizers include time-sensitive calls to action, scalability by enabling one ad to have hundreds of variations, and the familiarity of working with a feature that operates in the same way as keyword insertion (you don't have to learn something completely new!).

    Ad Customizers are applied by using braces {like this} to set parameters that will be replaced with the dynamic text. There's even a "countdown" function that will automatically change the number of days remaining on a promotion. Give Ad Customizers a try!

    Recommended by: @bigalittlea, @matt_umbro

    5. App Promotion Ads

    In August, Google made their App Promotion ads available across the Google Search and YouTube networks. They had first launched in June on the Display Network.

    Top 10 AdWords features app promotion ads

    On YouTube, app promotion ads allow marketers to link the app's ID to an active TrueView campaign, to tap into the network where users are 2.2 times more likely to download apps. Available ad formats allow you to display the price, app name, icon and ratings next to the video ad, or in the ad preview. You can then target YouTube users based on content they've viewed, their interests, or relevant video views.

    On Google Search (pictured above), your app ad will display to people who are searching for information relevant to your app content. These can be used to encourage both new app installs and app reengagement.

    Recommended by: @PeterNikolow, @DavidIwanow

    6. Demographics Targeting Tab

    The Demographics Targeting Tab launched without so much as a peep from Google, yet it's one of the more impactful changes of the year.

    Top 10 AdWords features demographic combinations

    Google began rolling out the tab to replace the Age, Gender and Parental Status tabs in early October. Prior to this update, advertisers were limited to viewing demographic performance only one parameter at a time.

    The new Demographics Tab enables you to see combinations of demographics and better gauge the impact of your ads on specific groups of people (who aren't one-dimensional!).

    Recommended by: @markirvine89

    7. Forced Use of Close Variants

    In September, Google redefined how keywords set to phrase and exact match keyword match type trigger search ads, effectively killing off both variables.

    Top 10 AdWords features exact match phrase match meme

    Prior to the update, close variant keyword match was the default option, but you could opt out. Using classic phrase and exact match keyword matching gave advertisers greater control over the search queries that would trigger their ads. Still, this update made account management less complex and the vast majority of advertisers were using close variant matching anyway. It allows advertisers to expand their reach by capturing longer tail keywords that previously would have been impossible to target due to low keyword volume.

    Recommended by: Matt Hessler @Trada

    8. Revamped Google Web Designer for HTML5 Ads

    The redesigned Google Web Designer launched in August, giving advertisers the ability to upload HTML5 ads built within it to Google Display Network campaigns.

    Google Web Designer lets you create interactive, animated HTML5 ads with zero coding skills.

    Other improvements in this latest version included updated Events, Timeline and Components functionalities, as well as improved integration with Google Drive, DoubleClick Studio, AdWords and DoubleClick Campaign Manager.

    Recommended by: @HomeofJones

    9. Dynamic Remarketing for All Verticals

    This year, Google rolled out their dynamic remarketing ads to all verticals. They had been available in beta to some advertisers in 2013, but went widely available in 2014.

    Top 10 AdWords features dynamic remarketing ad builder

    We know that image ads are more compelling than plain text, but advertisers (especially those with a huge inventory of products) had a massive undertaking in creating them for their remarketing campaigns. This update gave advertisers access to dynamically created image ads for remarketing, complete with product images, price and text of choice.

    Google generates these automatically based on your web visitors' behavior, once they're set up. They're a very cool and much-needed feature for retail advertisers!

    Recommended by: @PetraonClicks

    10. Enterprise-Class Tools for Everyone!

    Top 10 AdWords features enterprise class toolsAll the way back in April, Google held an event and made a number of announcements about new AdWords features.  Among the best news that day was this: Google released new enterprise-level tools that, despite their name, were open to everyone!

    It was a huge coup for smaller businesses, who could then access more powerful tools without having to meet a certain level of ad spend. Among the benefits of the new tool: bulk actions, automated bidding, enhanced reporting and a new lab where advertisers can run experiments based on real data.

    Bonus! Google AdWords Editor Version 11

    Google saved the best for last this year! AdWords Editor got a huge makeover in early December – it was the biggest update to the tool since it launched.

    The new AdWords Editor has a cleaner layout, with reorganized navigation and a streamlined data view. Marketers can now open and view multiple account windows side by side and copy/paste from one window to another. It's also easier to make bulk changes and assignments across multiple campaigns or ad groups.

    Recommended by: @ppchero

    In case you missed it, check out our 5 Seriously Powerful but Underused Google AdWords Features, as well. Get to know these new and evolving AdWords elements and test them out to find the winners for your account.

    And of course, stay tuned into the new year as we continue to sort through the constant AdWords changes and bring you recommendations on what to try next!

    “There’s this myth about how crowdfunding is supposed to work,” the researchers say. “The myth is that going viral is the only way to have a successful crowdfunding campaign. So scientists don’t think that they can use it for their research. And that’s just wrong.”

    As crowdfunding has taken off over the past few years, there have been a number of studies that have attempted to understand the whole process.  For instance, a recent paper looked at the various kinds of backer for your typical crowdfunding project.

    A second, by researchers from Georgia Tech, looked at the kind of characteristics that underpin a successful crowdfunding campaign, with a particular focus given to the kind of language used in the pitch.

    So it’s interesting to come across a third study that suggests that a lot of what has come before is bunkem, and indeed the number of myths surrounding crowdfunding was the underlying motivation for their own research.

    “There’s this myth about how crowdfunding is supposed to work,” the researchers say. “The myth is that going viral is the only way to have a successful crowdfunding campaign. So scientists don’t think that they can use it for their research. And that’s just wrong.”

    The researchers set about discovering what it was that made scientific crowdfunding projects work (or not).  The research uncovered two core findings:

    1. success depends on having an audience built before the crowdfunding begins
    2. engagement with that audience throughout the campaign is also crucial

    The study saw over 150 crowdfunding projects initiated, with detailed data on each project collected by the researchers.  The data included things such as the patterns of donations and the various web metrics provided by the platforms.

    The analysis looked at things such as the overall size of the community founders had created on social media, plus the number of stakeholders had been contacted pre-launch of each campaign.  It emerged that the most important factor about each network was that it was scalable.

    “Twitter and email, which get passed on to other people or organizations, had a huge impact on bringing people in to look at projects,” the researchers say. “We found that if people looked at a project, a certain percentage of that translated into people donating money to those projects.”

    Crowdfunding is a marathon, not a sprint

    The researchers likened crowdfunding to a bit like running a marathon.  If you’ve done lots of training building up to it (ie done the work in building up your network beforehand), then running the event itself isn’t so bad.  Running a marathon without the training however is no kind of fun at all.

    The study also revealed that a passion for the topic from the founders was crucial in engaging potential backers in the project.  They quote a campaign that was hoping to study error counts in surveys of underwater organisms, ie a pretty dull topic, that nevertheless managed to reach its funding goal.

    “Measurement error—could there be anything more boring?” the founders said. “I had to dig really deep and find my interest in this work, where my passion was and what the nugget was that would interest people in something as esoteric sounding as measurement error. The answer was telling people that in order to understand the ocean we need to know if we can actually measure it with accuracy.

    “And so, I did really well. I crowdfunded a full research cruise to study measurement error in Channel Islands kelp forest surveys. It was a shocking success for me. It really proved to me that if you put in the effort, if you build an audience and engage them, then you’ll be able to crowdfund your work.”

    It underlines the value inherent in scientists and researchers using social media to engage more frequently with their audience.  This is especially so as it appears likely that crowdfunding will be an increasingly fertile ground for scientific funding in the coming years.

    Sadly, thus far at least, the number of academics using social media appears to be rather minimal.  Studies have suggested that there is little desire to clamor to social media amongst the academic community.

    They suggest that a big hurdle to greater social media usage is how their institutions perceive social media.  As long as institutions perceive it as a platform with little real academic merit, it will be a challenge to get academics using it to engage more with their stakeholders.

    Will this research be the prod they require?  I suspect not, but it probably can’t do any harm.

    crowdfunding / shutterstock

    The business landscape has undergone seismic shifts with the advancement of social, tech integration, and analytics. To keep up with those shifts, there has emerged a growing need for new executive roles. Introducing the Chief Data Officer (CDO) and the Chief Commercial Officer (CCO).

    Over the past few years, there has been a ton of talk about the emerging roles of the CIO and CMO. A Forrester report has revealed that CIOs are responsible for transforming businesses and spurring innovation, while CMOs are demonstrating excellent practice and added value in accelerating the marketing achievements of their organizations. Despite the transformative impact that CIOs and CMOs have on business, questions have been raised as to whether there is a need for both of these roles, and if we will see them evolve in a bigger way in the coming years.


    Next C-suite Members: Chief Data Officer (CDO) and Chief Commercial Officer (CCO)

    While there is no doubt that tech is evolving the role of marketing, and social and consumerization is changing the way information officers plan their technology, there is a notable impact that the role of the customer and the data drawn from technology play in the future of the C-Suite, as well. The business landscape has undergone seismic shifts with the advancement of social, tech integration, and analytics. To keep up with those shifts, there has emerged a growing need for new executive roles.

    The abundance of data, and the critical role it will play in the decision making process for businesses, make it fair to predict that the CDO will be one of the most critical officers in a company. At the same time, the new data and insights are going to give us a better understanding of customers. A new emphasis that is less sales driven and more customer experience focused to make sure that data and the delivery of customer experience are aligned will be crucial. The CCO will help to achieve that compatibility between data and customer. The next C-Suite key members, the CDO and the CCO, will grow from the changing business landscape.

    Emergence of the CDO

    Capturing data and securing data opportunities might gradually rise to the top of the priority list for organizations, as we see data and analytics play a more critical role. With data driving better customer intelligence, boosting sales, improving productivity, and increasing revenue, businesses that want to succeed will need to be paying attention. Adapting to these new realities, Businesses may need more “top-management muscle” to fully utilize the power of data analytics and supervise its application.

    While many companies might find it unnerving to re-think top management roles and responsibilities, failing to assign top executive roles for data-related activities will not only impede their growth, but could leave them unguarded in the face of growing competition. Those poised to create this new role will find the pervasion of data much less overwhelming and may find themselves primed for growth among their competitors.

    Presenting the case for the CCO

    While CMOs regularly feature at the top executive tables, their role does not center on understanding the customer. A new EY survey has found that often Chief Sales Officers (CSOs) set up short-term goals, operate without a strategy, and don’t think about innovation. Where these two roles falter, the CCO will be integral.

    CCOs are primarily vested with the responsibility of leading the commercial functions of a company. But, in addition, their role is inextricable from various sales, marketing, and customer service processes which involve customer relations, innovation, analytics strategy, and R&D. As businesses are realizing the need to integrate their customer-centric operations, the role of the CCO is gaining more prominence. According to the recent EY survey, 73% of CCOs are confident that they add value by “using customer feedback to help develop the business” compared to 58% of CMOs, and 68% of CSOs. The proverbial rift between the sales and the marketing teams – with the former focused on long-term brand building, and the latter riveted on short-term goals – have often undermined organizational growth. With functions that overlap both marketing and sales, CCOs can bridge the gap that exists between both the teams.

    Have you witnessed a particular need in your organization that calls for restructuring the C-suite? Has your organization already implemented the CDO or CCO, and what impact has that had on your business? We would love to hear your thoughts.

    This post was written as part of the Dell Insight Partners program, which provides news and analysis on technology, business and gadget-geek culture. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent Dell’s positions or strategies.

    A year's worth of interviews of the experts in particular aspects of social media has led to a valuable resource for any marketer hoping to find a solution to one of the many challenges associated with social media.
    Social media’s disruptive influence is felt everywhere. It continues to challenge legacy companies, wrongfoot celebrities and trip-up politicians. In the topsy-turvy world of today suggests that the perceived ‘problem’ is frequently the solution. 
    It is with this in mind that Social Media Today launched the #SMTPowerTalk Hangouts on Air (HOAs) on Google+, using the very medium that’s responsible for so many of the challenges that businesses face, to find solutions and release insights by talking to some of the most clued-up people in social media marketing and branding. 
    Over the course of a year our guests included PR experts, seasoned marketers, leadership speakers, solopreneurs, startup CEOs and web designers. With backgrounds as diverse as Harvard graduates and former IBM executives and even former NASA employees they each brought a wealth of information, insights and experience which they readily shared with the audience. 
    For those of you who missed them, the announcement, each time is made on the Social Media Today Page on Google+. The roll-call this year went a little like this: 
    Uncovering the Human Factor in Social Media Marketing
    How Marketing Became Personal
    Making Disruption Work For You 
    Social Network Marketing Explained
    Social Media Analytics
    CEOs Who Are the Company
    Personas and Personality in Social Media
    Games & Design in Social Media Marketing
    The Visual Power of Hangouts in Social Media Marketing
    Leadership in Social Media
    Cooperation in Social Media
    Each of the guests to the show is an expert in his field. If we’d set out to create a year-round resource for social media students, marketers and entrepreneurs to learn from, we’d be hard pressed to do anything differently. 
    There will be more to enjoy and absorb in the year ahead. The challenges, by the looks of things, are not going away. If you haven’t already, join us on Google+ and be part of the conversation.